Civility at Saddleback
By: Guest Authors
By David M. Huntwork
I watched a good portion the Saddleback Civil Forum on Saturday evening. It was a decent showing for both candidates but McCain probably did the best in what was viewed by many conservatives as a possible ambush by a pro-Obama evangelical pastor at a forum conceived by a variety of ideologically questionable characters. Instead, McCain really fumbled only once and came across as a decisive, determined, focused, relaxed, and informed man of integrity.
If you missed it here is a good recap.
â€œRick did an amazing job of asking the questions most of us would ask the candidates if we could,â€ said Jill Frick, 47, of San Clemente. â€œI just really liked how John McCain gave well-stated answers. He didnâ€™t even have to think. He takes a stand. Barack has a charming personality. He didnâ€™t always give the direct answer.â€
As a good orator and a person with definite charisma, Obama almost always does well no matter what the venue though he is less sure of himself without a TelePrompter in front of him. That said, he did flub the â€™evilâ€™ and â€˜abortionâ€™ questions.
Obama went to great lengths to appear thoughtful and philosophical in his answers but too often that ends up coming across as indecisive and vacillating. Perception is often everything, and his answers lacked substance and tended to make him look like heâ€™s still putting together a personal ideology at this stage in his life. If you are seeking the presidency of the United States I would hope that youâ€™ve managed to cobble together a concrete, coherent world view by now instead of addressing each ideological and theological question as if you are considering it for the first time.
This was an important night for McCain. There are always questions whether he could go â€˜toe to toeâ€™ with the wonder boy from Chicago, but he laid many of those concerns to rest with this performance. I liked the unabashed conservatism that was expressed as well on many issues, and I feel better casting my vote for the man after watching him commit to several positions unequivocally and with passion. He did very well and I was impressed with what he had to say. He needed to shore up his base while still appealing to undecideds and independents and I believe he accomplished that. McCain had my attention and I was inspired by what he had to share with his audience and the American people. It was the best I have seen him to date.
McCain did a great job at winning over conservatives (which are overwhelmingly Christian in belief) so the whole â€œMcCain didnâ€™t address faith enoughâ€ argument that is being peddled since the forum fails for lack of a second. He actually addressed Christian concepts, faith and prayer (and therefore the Christian worldview) several times. Christians are not necessarily looking to put a Bible thumper in the white house but will be happy to put in a man who will reject socialism, not cheerlead the gay agenda or promote abortion on demand at every stage of pregnancy while being willing to put some good Constitutionalist judges on the bench. Thatâ€™s all they really want and if McCain can deliver that much heâ€™ll be perfectly acceptable to everyone to the Right of Hillary Clinton.
Weâ€™ve seen what type of â€˜faithâ€™ and spiritual mentor Obama has been subscribing to over the last twenty three years so we arenâ€™t impressed by any and all attempts by him to come across as some sort of spiritual, faith based person. The truth there has been exposed and we are not fooled.
The Right seems to be very pleased with what they saw. Jonah Goldberg over at NRO seems pleased had this to say about McCainâ€™s performance.
â€œI think Obama did very well (and he doesnâ€™t need to win a majority of this audience, he merely needs to keep McCainâ€™s support below typical trends). But this was McCainâ€™s best performance in memory. For the first time I can think of in â€˜08, at least, he comes across as the kind of guy a lot of conservatives can want to vote for, rather than merely settle for.â€
And Mark Hemingway has a good overview of the forum that is well worth reading:
â€œBut I also think that itâ€™s worth noting that but I suspect he may be riding high for a while after tonight. â€œObama wasnâ€™t just bad, but that McCain was very good. He was the perfect balance of likable and serious. He also came across as informed, offered far more policy specifics than Obama, highlighted his faith as was appropriate to the setting, and almost everything he said bolstered his conservative credentials. (His comments on taxes and what it means to be â€œrichâ€ were especially good in that regard.) Iâ€™d wager that for a lot of conservatives watching, McCain went from the enemy of my enemy to someone they felt good about voting for. He may yet foul that up.”
And you know it was a good night when the Obama camp begins to whine. According to Andrea Mitchell’s reporting on Meet the Press, the only explanation the Obama campaign could come up with was foul play:
â€œThe Obama people must feel that he didnâ€™t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.â€
The gilded tint on the anointed one is beginning to wear off and the remarkable silence by the Mainstream Media about last nightâ€™s performances is striking. The McCain offer of weekly town hall forums remains on the table–anyplace, anytime. But we now see why that offer has yet to be accepted.
The general election started for all intents and purposes Saturday night. It will be an interesting contest from here on out.
David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado, where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. You may view his bio and past columns at http://DavidHuntwork.tripod.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions at Davehuntwork@juno.com .